Behind the Binge: How 'Suits' Writers Are Paid Chump Change in Hollywood's Game

August 12, 2023
2 min read
By George Djaniants
Film Business
Behind the Binge How Suits Writers Are Paid Chump Change in Hollywood s Game

Hey, ever wondered why Hollywood's been buzzing about screenwriters on strike for almost four months now? The situation's grimmer than you might think, and we got a glimpse of it from Ethan Drogin, a writer and producer for "Suits." He spilled the beans in a recent piece for the Los Angeles Times.

What NBCUniversal Paid the 'Suits' Writers

He said he got a measly $259.71 in residuals for an episode of "Suits" from Season 1 last quarter. That's nuts, considering the show's been binge-watched like crazy on Netflix lately! To give you a sense of scale, people gobbled up 3.7 billion minutes of "Suits" in just one week. It's even Netflix's most-watched acquired title.

For Netflix, it's like hitting the jackpot. But for the creative minds behind the show? It's peanuts. Drogin's share is part of a ridiculous $3,000 NBCUniversal paid to six original writers for the show's recent popularity boom. To put that in perspective, imagine if the writers of "Breaking Bad" were paid only a couple of hundred bucks each, despite the show's continued success on streaming platforms. It’s safe to say Netflix didn't pick up "Suits" for a tiny sum.

Writers Left Out of the Loop

writers left out of the loop

Oh, and get this. "Suits" has been adapted into South Korean, Japanese, and Egyptian versions, but the creators haven’t seen a dime for that. It's like cooking up a Michelin-star recipe and then watching others open restaurants with it without paying you a cent.

And there's more trouble brewing. In today's Hollywood, writers often get kicked out after creating a series, treated like gig workers. Imagine if J.K. Rowling were told to step away after penning the first "Harry Potter" book, with someone else taking over the series.

TV shows lasting beyond three seasons are rare these days. Studios think people get bored, but the continued success of shows like "Suits" (which went on for nine seasons) shows that there's something wrong with the current model. It's like your favorite band suddenly splitting up after a hit album; it doesn't make sense.

What the Future Holds

what the future holds

In a nutshell, it's high time Hollywood recognizes the talent that brings quality content to life and pays them fairly. If not, the creators might just take their talents elsewhere, and who would blame them? It's like expecting Picasso to paint masterpieces for pocket change. Ain't gonna happen!

Published on August 12, 2023 by George Djaniants

George Djaniants

CEO & Co-Founder